Day 4 #AprilBlogADay Challenge – Connection

My teacher desk

A Moment of Humanity in the Classroom – Think about a moment in your teaching experience where there was a “connection” between you and a student or group of students that resonated beyond content.

The one moment that stood out is when a group of students happened upon a video about Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. It was during my first year of becoming the chief learner in my classroom. We had made a huge switch in how we did school in eighth grade history and language arts classes.

We were becoming co-learners on a mission to improve the world.

Here’s the caption I wrote on this picture on Flickr.

Four students started out watching this video while others were busy on something else. Others were pulled in to the experience. I loved the intense look on their faces.

This morning 52 million people had viewed this video, and a few hours later, it was up to 56 million.

They left the room wanting to do more.

I didn’t know what to do or how to do it. It was outside my level of expertise. I had never been trained for this. However, although I was clearly out of my league, when I gave up control and became a co-learner, we were all able to learn amazing things together. This was one of many times of rich connecting and learning that we did during that school year.


Wisdom is a good reason for becoming the chief learner.

Update: Now over a million people have seen Invisible Children’s video and thanks in small part to the great awareness this “Kony 2012” video brought about, things have gotten better in Uganda. Read an update on Christianity Today about Kony and the LRA.

Day 3 – #AprilBlogADay Challenge – Responsibilities

What’s our most important professional responsibility outside the classroom?

 My first thought is of the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) standards. (Just my first thought–maybe not the most important.)

Before I get to my point, though, according to ISTE, the student standards are “…for evaluating the skills and knowledge students need to learn effectively and live productively in an increasingly global and digital world.”

In the classroom, I want to teach students to be creative and innovative; communicators and collaborators; fluent in research and information; critical thinkers, problem solvers, and decision makers; good digital citizens; and to understand operations and concepts. (More details on these standards here.)

I believe all of us teachers are responsible to teach these standards. Students aren’t naturally going to learn these things. Digital natives or not, they still need to be taught these skills and knowledge in order for them to learn effectively and live productively in today’s world. Technology teachers don’t have enough time with them to teach all these skills. We all need to teach our students to be literate in this increasingly global and digital world.

ISTE also suggests standards for teachers and says these are “the standards for evaluating the skills and knowledge educators need to teach, work and learn in an increasingly connected global and digital society.” Note, again, no mention of “technology” teachers. We are asked to:

  1. facilitate and inspire learning and creativity
  2. design and develop “digital age” learning experiences and assessments (Teachers have always designed and developed learning experiences and assessments, but now “digital age” experiences and assessments. Again, not just in computer class.)
  3. model digital work and learning
  4. promote digital citizenship and responsibility
  5. engage in professional growth and leadership

Read more details about the teacher standards here.

Which leads me to why I thought of the ISTE standards when I saw the topic,  What’s our most important professional responsibility outside the classroom? 

We have to take these professional responsibilities in the teacher ISTE standards outside the school day. Teachers not only work in a global and digital world; they also live in one on weekends and evenings too. Most teachers use at least some form of technology–word processing, email, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media.

I especially find 3 and 4 to be applicable to our outside responsibilities. Whether we like it or not, we are modeling digital age work and learning. We promote and model digital citizenship.

Some teachers do this poorly. They say things like, “I don’t get technology” and “I don’t do computers.” The role modeling they are doing is not of digital age work and learning.  Doesn’t that attitude promote and model poor citizenship?

Some teachers, on the other hand, are taking full responsibility for their work in the global and digital world. They are making their learning visible. They grow in technology skills by choosing to do professional development on their own time. They blog and lead workshops and help reluctant teachers learn to “get” technology and “do” computers. Teachers, in turn, help their students blog so they can make their learning visible too. I just read today about an award the Surrey School District received for the ePortfolios their students create.  Starting in Kindergarten! Classroom teachers are doing this work all over the world.

Here’s to more and more teachers taking seriously this work inside and outside the classroom. Our students need us more than ever to facilitate, inspire, design, develop, model, promote and engage!


What do you think is our most important professional responsibility outside the classroom?

Day 2 #AprilBlogADay – Impacting

Topic – Two things I did today that will impact someone else’s tomorrow.

This week I am on spring break, and I’ve had time to do some jobs that have been put off for too long.  I know this work will surprise and impact the teachers when they come back and look in here next week. This morning there were several shelves that looked like this. I forgot to take more before pictures, though.Crowded Cupboard with Old Curriculum

Now it’s all organized and ready to store materials that are needed each week.


Hopefully the webinar I’m going to lead in a couple hours will impact some people tomorrow. I hope they will be challenged and inspired to explore, create, and contribute to free online educational resources.


AprilBlogADay challenges can be found here.

Explore, Create, Contribute: the Best in Free Online Resources for Educators

I’m excited to lead a WizIQ webinar called “Explore, Create, Contribute: the Best in Free Online Resources for Educators.” It’s free and coming soon on 2 April 2015 at 2:30 EST.  Hopefully you can come!

In these days of ubiquitous free online resources, you may be wondering about my use of “the best” in describing the online resources we’ll explore. You may ask yourself, “How would she know the best online resources?”

Well, there is a hint in the title: Explore, Create, Contribute. In this webinar, we will definitely explore excellent free online resources. In fact, they are the most useful resources I’m using right now for teaching English language learners in Bahrain.

What will make them even better, though–the best–is when you join in, sharing your gift, creating and contributing, as well. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to do just that. Join us!

2 April 2015 Explore, Create, Contribute for WizIQ